Panel: Keystone Press Award Winners

By William Derry

Five Keystone award winners what it took to produce award winning stories on a panel Saturday and told journalists what they could do to produce high quality work. Here’s what they said:


Dana DiFilippo
News Organization: WHYY/Newsworks
Begging for mercy: Philly panhandlers say citations are ‘pointless’
While making her daily five-block walk to work one day, Dana DiFilippo noticed a homeless man who was panhandling receive a ticket, so she went up to him and asked why he had received the ticket.

That interaction prompted DiFilippo to talk with nine more men, who were also panhandling. That led to an article about the conundrum of giving tickets to those who cannot afford to pay them.

Although she finished the article in a week, DiFilippo said that stories are everywhere and that she was intrigued to ask questions that she always wanted to know the answers to.

“You can do really good work on a smaller scale. Small stories can have big impact,” she said.


Jason Laughlin
News Organization: Philadelphia Media Network
Entry Title: Why Your Train Is Late
Transportation coverage can be become very dry at times, according Jason Laughlin.

But you can tell stories that affect people.

Laughlin and two other staff writers at the Philadelphia Media Network decided to answer a question that affects many SEPTA Regional Rail riders: Why your train is late?

Laughlin and his colleagues also discovered interesting activities that could be done with the time wasted waiting for the train.

One piece of advice that Laughlin offered to attendees of the panel discussion: “If (a topic) not universal, then it may not be worth writing.”


Joe Smydo
Editorial Writer
News Organization: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Entry Titles: Confronting the past; Tainted CDC; Taking their Shots

Joe Smydo continued his coverage of mental illness in the state of Pennsylvania this past year by writing various editorials about its impact on state residents.

He focused his reporting on two communities with a high number of mental illness cases, finding a way to present “cool” data and tell human stories.


Amy Rosenberg
Staff Writer
News Organization: Philadelphia Media Network
Entry Titles: With start of both DNC and Eagles camp, worlds collide in South Philly,Mississippi Freedom delegate remembers turbulent 1964 in Atlantic City and Ex-prosecutor: I would’ve let Philly juvenile lifer out in 8 years


Despite a tight deadline, Amy Rosenberg completed two feature stories that were published three days apart from each other. Rosenberg admitted that it was a lot of work but the second feature that was published had been a story that she wanted to know more about. The article about the young juvenile lifer was a story that Rosenberg had known about since 1988, so her knowledge of the piece was extensive.


Joshua Vaughn
News Organization: The Sentinel Carlisle
Entry Title: 181 Shooting: John Wayne Strawser


No one wanted to dig into the background of John Wayne Strawser, who was accused of killing a man on Interstate shooting, until Joshua Vaughn decided to investigate.

Vaughn published a four-part series that examined what lead up to the killing of Timothy Davison, and the death of Amy Lou Buckingham.  Through public documents and taking two vacation days to  drive to West Virginia for police records, he pieced together a story about how the deaths could have been prevented.


Interns’ final thoughts

William Derry, Amelia Kibbe, Julia Schuller and Rob DiRienzo

I never could have expected to have such an awarding two-day experience at the 2017 Online Reporter Project. As as an aspiring journalist, I have had roughly 5 part-time positions and internships within my field before beginning the Online Reporter Project. What made this opportunity extremely unique was the opportunity to work simultaneously as a print, photo and video journalist. Some of my other opportunities had restricted me to solely broadcast or radio journalism. On top of that, I was able to network with literally hundreds of journalists in my field. I learned a lot from our mentors, and I’m sad that it flew by so quickly!

–– Julia Schuller

This weekend gave me the tools to help grow as a journalist. In this day and age, there is perpetual uncertainty about the direction of the industry and the public’s trust in us as journalists. Several of the discussions helped quell those anxieties and equipped me with a sense of ardent determination for the truth and overall transparency. My work on the Online Reporter Project gave me a great opportunity to network with the state’s most talented and determined journalists. One of the most rewarding conversations I had was with Susan Baldrige, who broke a major story here in Lancaster and was recognized for it. Her courage is evident in our conversation. I hope to absorb some of the professionalism, personality, and journalistic ethicism I have experienced here  as I being my career.

–– Rob DiRienzo

I really enjoyed the panel discussions this weekend. The first day, I attended one that was more than 2.5 hours long — that’s like three college classes. But I wasn’t distracted or bored. Hearing from different-sized papers and TV stations really helped me understand the changing journalism atmosphere — right as I’m about to enter it. It was a fun weekend, and I would recommend it to any communications student.

–– Amelia Kibbe

Interning with the 2017 Online Reporter Project at the 2017 Pennsylvania Press Conference was an eye-opening experience.

Not only did I have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals but I was also able to network with media members from around the state of Pennsylvania. Although the conference only lasted for two days, I acquired additional skills and gained more knowledge about the media industry during this short period of time than I could have ever imagined.

The guidance that I received from all of the mentors of the Online Reporter Project was impeccable and I could not be more appreciative of their support. Additionally, it was a pleasure working with the other interns.

–– William Derry

Panel: The Real Problem of Fake News

By William Derry

“It’s up to journalists to combat “The Real Problem of Fake News,” Pennsylvania Press Conference attendees were told Saturday morning.

Though the term “fake news” gained nationwide notoriety during last year’s U.S. Presidential campaign, panelists Russ Eshleman and Bill Ketter both agree that the essence of the phrase has been around for some time.

Continue reading Panel: The Real Problem of Fake News